An innovative design system humanizes the digital banking experience


Bank of the West


San Francisco


Strategic Research
Social Impact + Sustainability
Design + Engineering

The Challenge

Bank of the West prides itself on being fundamentally different – it has the strongest environmental policy of any U.S. bank, and it is led by one of the few women CEOs in banking. In 2020, they asked propelland for help creating a compelling and intuitive digital banking experience that would convey, vividly, what makes Bank of the West a special place to bank.

The Opportunity

Bank of the West had two main goals for its new website:

  1. Create a high-performing, mobile-first site for customers.
  2. Resolve a complex navigation and information architecture that made it difficult for customers to find the products and services they needed.

A core problem with the previous Bank of the West website is that it had become difficult to use, both internally and externally. As new products and features were added over time, site navigation became more difficult for customers, while the back-end platform became increasingly complicated for the bank to manage. 

To create a more intuitive front-end experience, the propelland team needed to first reconsider how the back-end worked. We understood that a new back-end platform – anchored by a comprehensive and intuitive design system –  would enable the Bank of the West website to grow sustainably and deliver an elevated front-end experience for customers.  

The Solution

propelland worked with the Bank of the West teams to overhaul their design system, which is a comprehensive framework that defines user requirements, provides a common library of design assets, and includes standards and guidelines to shape all future design decisions. Importantly, the design system is reflected in the website code, ensuring that future coding work builds on the established design system and evolves the website without breaking it.  

For Bank of the West, the new design system was developed so that the bank’s internal design team could more easily provide customers a consistent digital experience, both in the app and on the web. Our work also enabled the marketing department to have a more flexible and adaptive platform to provide future solutions. After creating the design system, we implemented it to create key areas of the site, including the home page. We also refined the overall site layout and navigation to ensure it was accessible, transparent, and trustworthy – all while bringing Bank of the West’s unique brand values to the fore.

Our Approach

The propelland team had four strategic imperatives for our work with Bank of the West:

An infrastructure for future marketing efforts

We conducted an audit on the full range of the existing customer experience to create a benchmark assessment of their offerings. Using our research, we designed a responsive component library to enable marketers to put together new website pages quickly with pre-approved elements and templates.

Improved product discoverability 

We improved the overall content layout and navigation experience with a responsive and mobile-first mindset. The result is visually compelling and clear, making the system approachable, trustworthy, and transparent.

A Scalable Design System

We tested and explored the interactions of each component before the Bank’s internal development team integrated them into the Bank’s CMS, while complying with strict ADA requirements. As product offerings continue to grow, the design system will scale to support the portfolio. This will empower customers to continue discovering new products as they are added.

Bringing the bank's values to life

Bank of the West has the strongest environmental policy of any major U.S. bank. They created 1% for the Planet, a membership program in which individuals or businesses can donate 1% of their salaries or revenue directly to approved environmental nonprofits. We integrated their corporate values across the design system, elevating the Bank’s strong commitments to sustainability and diversity in an easily digestible and highly impactful format. We also helped them bring their editorial thought leadership content for the various lines of business to their landing pages using modular card designs. Now, an authentic and relatable voice offers a window into the company’s priorities: financial institutions can make a positive impact on people, and on the planet they inhabit.

“Bank of the West is already deeply committed to its values around planet and people, and so the bigger question becomes: how are we getting that message out across all touchpoints? It’s about embedding it across all of our digital properties.”

-- Hisham Salama

Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Bank of the West


The scalable design system enabled Bank of the West to deliver what customers need, quickly and effortlessly.  The system includes reusable components in a design library that can be leveraged across a variety of digital products, ensuring consistency across all lines of business. Since launching the new site, the bank has experienced:
  • A 200 – 300% increase in the rate of prospects who go from the homepage to product pages
  • A 2-3X increase in the rate of existing customers who go from the homepage to the online banking portal
  • A 2-3X increase in both prospects and existing customers who go from product or compare pages to the online account opening page
 The overall result is a complete evolution of the Bank’s digital offerings and branding that clearly differentiates Bank of the West from other more traditional banks in the market. propelland is proud to have helped Bank of the West introduce a new generation of customers to a different kind of bank – one that understands their financial needs and aligns with their values.